Anaheim’s New Stormwater System Becomes Award-Winning Project


Modjeska Park Underground Stormwater Detention and Infiltration System Project in Anaheim, CA, designed by Cannon of San Luis Obispo, CA, was recently honored two awards for its beneficial public contribution and engineering excellence.  

It was announced in November that the American Public Works Association’s (APWA) Southern California Chapter named the system Project of the Year in its category. Additionally, the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) selected Cannon to receive an Honor Award for their annual Engineering Excellence Awards competition, to be celebrated at their virtual gala on February 4th, 2021.  

This state-of-the-art underground system solves local flooding issues for the residents of Anaheim by diverting and treating up to 182 acre-feet of urban runoff per year. The system is located underneath a 37,000 square-foot parking lot in Modjeska Park. As part of Orange County’s Stormwater Resource Plan, the modular concrete system also protects regional water quality by collecting, treating, and infiltrating urban runoff, thereby recharging the groundwater supply. The finished project is engineered with drywells which draw water to deeper, more favorable soils, facilitating groundwater recharge. It also features a custom-designed pre-treatment system with a trash capture device to prevent clogging. The beautified parking lot was refinished with permeable, interlocking concrete pavers to enhance water conveyance to the system, and upgraded to increase accessibility for those with disabilities. 

“This project has some unique features that aren’t just off the shelf. The custom-design was a group effort by Cannon, GHD, and the City of Anaheim,” said Gary Solsona, Cannon’s Project Manager and Principal Civil Engineer. “The main issue was an undersized storm drain, and the conventional fix would be a larger pipe. Our underground system is more environmentally sensitive and addresses water quality, recharge, and overall sustainability. I’m excited to see the difference it makes during the next large storm event.” 

The new system prevents flooding and damage to the roadway infrastructure and homeowners’ properties during storm events. By infiltrating the runoff, pollutants are naturally filtered into the soil, which replenishes the water table and reduces marine pollution. The underground structure does not impede park use or future park development. 

“It feels awesome to be recognized for our team’s dedication and hard work,” said Solsona. “I’m really proud of what we’ve accomplished. A strong client, strong engineers, and strong construction manager all lead to a great project success.”